A seemingly harmless campaign for the Hong Kong Tourism Board that showed a quirky romance between a young couple has been called out as being “controlling, manipulative and abusive”.
The ad centres around a young female star who is seen packing her bags, apparently about to fly off to an unknown destination to begin her university degree.
Our protagonist soon realises her passport has been taken – apparently by the lovelorn boyfriend – and she has to set off on an elaborate scavenger hunt through Hong Kong’s shopping-centric Sham Shui Po district track to track down the boyfriend and the passport.
The ad’s the work of creative agency Grey Hong Kong and you can check it out below:
However, social media commentators have been less kind to the spot, calling the boyfriend’s behaviour the “work of an abuser”.
One hater of the ad took to Twitter to write: “Stop romanticising this, this is not romantic; this is controlling, manipulative and abusive. This is not love.”
“Fun fact: my abusive ex husband would steal my passport to control me,” replied another. “Not sure what the ad agency who came up with this was thinking, but clearly they have missed the mark.”
While another added: “Stealing someone’s passport isn’t romantic, it’s what abusers do. Delete this.”
“What kind of abusive backwards shit is this?” penned one angry person.
“Ninety-nine per cent sure this is how human trafficking starts,” wrote another.
“Not romantic. Creepy,” wrote one young man.
“I don’t know what you wanted us to take from this ad but nothing in it makes me want to visit, my dudes. Discover boundaries and basic respect, maybe,” added another.
“My father destroyed my mother’s passports (new and old copies) because he felt that she doesn’t deserve to leave the house. Do you know how it feels to have an abusive partner who takes liberty in deciding everything for you? It’s hell. Don’t romanticise abuser,” penned another ad hater.
While another weighed in: “So I can come to HK and kidnap my girlfriend, and it’s ok? Really? WTAF?!?!?”